Williamson Eager To Jumpstart Terps Career

Maryland’s No. 1 ranked men’s soccer recruiting class enrolls in College Park, Md., later this July, but a few of head coach Sasho Cirovski’s nearby talents were so eager to start they’ve already arrived. That includes T.C. Williams (Arlington, Va.) forward/midfielder Eryk Williamson, who has quickly acclimated himself to UMD.

Maryland’s No. 1 ranked men’s soccer recruiting class enrolls in College Park, Md., later this July, but a few of head coach Sasho Cirovski’s nearby talents were so eager to start they’ve already arrived. That includes T.C. Williams (Arlington, Va.) forward/midfielder Eryk Williamson, who has quickly acclimated himself to UMD.

The No. 60 overall prospect in the country, according to College Soccer News, Williamson has ambitious goals (no pun intended) and is willing to go the extra mile to accomplish them.

“I’m trying to get in a few minutes with the first team before everyone gets here, so every night they have pickup at Maryland, I’m there,” Williamson said. “I’m trying to do all I can before school starts this summer, just so I’m ahead of the curve and can help the team as soon as I’m enrolled.

“The goal this year, it’s national championship, definitely. I’m from Virginia and I have a lot of friends that just won the College Cup with UVA. I see them all on social media posting pictures of their rings and all that, and that’s something I’d love to bring to Maryland next year. We’re all really hungry to get it done this year.”

Williamson is off to an auspicious start -- at least in terms of building chemistry with his future teammates. Sure, he knows many of his fellow class of 2015 Terps signees, but since arriving early he’s connected with UMD defender Alex Crognale and keeper Cody Niedemeier, among others.

“Everyone I’ve met so far has been really cool. Alex and Cody, they were working as coaches at a camp there [in late June], and we really bonded,” Williamson said. “They were like, ‘Hey, whenever you want to come up here, you can stay with us. We have an extra bed, an extra couch.’ So it’s been great so far, and I look forward to building a great relationship with all the guys there… I think we can all sense this is a big year for Maryland.”

Although Williamson grew up just a half hour or so from College Park, his figurative road to UMD was much longer -- and much more arduous.

See, Williamson, despite living just outside of Washington, D.C., his entire life, is an admitted “UVA guy.” After all, Virginia was the in-state school and its soccer program had long been a stalwart.

Naturally, when Williamson first started receiving college looks about three years ago, it was the Cavaliers -- not the Terps -- that grabbed his attention. So much so that Williamson was all set to become a Wahoo, practically sold on the school after visiting Charlottesville, Va.

But when one of UVA’s assistants, whom Williamson was particularly close to, left for Penn State, the T.C. Williams striker started having second thoughts. He delayed his college decision and began considering offers from VCU, ODU and Kentucky (Williamson said the Terps backed off once they learned he was favoring UVA). Of that trio, Williamson liked Kentucky the best, opting to commit in the spring of 2014.

That pledge held up for all of two weeks.

“Around the same time I committed to Kentucky, that’s when I started with D.C. United [Academy team], and that opened a few more doors for me,” Williamson said. “Maryland, UNC, George Mason, VCU and ODU all were in the picture at that point, and I realized I had some opportunities to stay close to home and have my mom come to my games.”

Thus, Williamson decommitted from the Wildcats and took his first visit to College Park. A week or so later, he was a Terp.

“I fell in love with Maryland and everything it was about,” said Williamson, who committed Jan. 30. “It’s a great soccer program, Coach Sasho is a terrific coach, it’s close to home and academically it’s strong. I knew I’d fit in there, and it was a great spot for me to learn and develop.”

It only helped that several of his friends had already committed to UMD. Both Diego Silva and Sebastian Elney spent the last year with Williamson on the United States U-18 national team, while Jorge Calix is a fellow T.C. Williams graduate.

“It was pretty cool, me and Jorge would walk around school with all our Maryland stuff on. We’re really tight,” Williamson said. “And it’s the same way with D.J. and Seba; we hang out all the time. We’re all looking to be roommates at Maryland and just continue that bond [in College Park] and beyond.”

Similar to Elney, Calix, Silva and most elite-level recruits, Williamson’s soccer career began before he even formed his first memories. Williamson’s mother, Nicole Brisco, told him she used to take baby Eryk to his sister, Tiffany’s, local rec-league games, passing him around to other adoring parents.

But it wasn’t long before Williamson bristled at being held, preferring to run up and down the pitch like his sister instead.

“Pretty much since I was born I had a soccer ball at my feet, even before I could remember,” Williamson said. “But my first memory was when I was like three years old and scored my first goal. I remember running around and giving my mom a big hug. Ever since then, I’ve just been playing with my siblings.”

Indeed, Williamson has grown up in a soccer-centric family, although his mother was a basketball player ironically enough. It was Williamson’s oldest brother, Andre Brisco, who is now about 30 years old, who introduced his younger siblings to the game. Evidently Andre Brisco played “every sport out there,” according to Williamson, but took to futbol most readily.

His passion quickly rubbed off on Tiffany Brisco, who became a high school star in her own right. Tiffany then passed the game on to Terrell Williamson, who is about 20 months older than Eryk, and is currently playing at Chowan University.

“I pretty much jumped in right after Terrell. I always played with Terrell and his age group, even though he’s almost two years older than me,” said Williamson, who also plays basketball and enjoys hitting golf balls as well (“I’m not very good at it,” he quipped). “I went down with players my age after I turned 13, but I’ve always sort of been a step ahead of my age group for the most part. I always wanted to play with the older guys so I could have bigger, stronger players to compete against to help me get better.”

The players might have been older, but Williamson said the competition didn’t exactly feature future MLS talents. That said, Williamson was still challenged thanks to coach Nick Flores, who helped shape the midfielder’s game.

“[Flores] basically ran me every day. He would take me out to play with some of his colleagues, and I’d play with the older guys and try not to get hurt,” Williamson said. “And he was always pushing me to do more. If I made the All-State team, he pushed me to make the All-Region team. If I made All-Region, he pushed me to make the national team. He was always running me, always expecting more.”

Williamson trained with Flores until he left Annandale. The Arlington native then spent three years with his hometown club team before, finally, the D.C. United Academy program offered him a spot last summer.

“My club team was not always the best guys, but the Academy league was a lot harder, and D.C. United taught me a lot about being professional athletes and what it takes to play at a professional level,” Williamson said. “Coach Tom Torres, he would tell us how many players there are out there just as good as you are. So it gave me a lot of experience going against guys just as good as me.”

After a year with United, Williamson displaying deft footwork, a devastating right-footed strike and a knack for beating defenders one-on-one, he caught the attention of the United State U-18 national team. He signed on in October and has been training with the U.S. squad ever since.

“Making the national team is something I’ve been pushing for for a long time. And once I got called up, I did what I could to make sure I stayed in the group and got invited to every camp,” Williamson said. “It’s worked out pretty well.”

Now, he’s hoping to parlay the national-team experience into a professional career, ideally in Europe.

For the time being, though, Williamson’s full attention has turned to College Park.

“My goal is after a season or two [at Maryland] to go pro with D.C. United or overseas. I know the national team pushes guys to play overseas, and that’s always been a dream of mine,” Williamson said. “But first I want to make the most of my time at Maryland and win a championship. The team we have, it’s really tight, and hopefully we can all accomplish something big at Maryland.”

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